Local soldier says he was bilked out of more than $25,000 while stationed in Afghanistan

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - John McDevitt, a U.S. Army Reservist from Clayville held up a sign outside the Bank of America branch on Mohawk Street in Utica saying "A soldier that puts America first should have a bank that puts the soldier first."

McDevitt who served in Afghanistan in 2010 for a year, says while he was there he had two weeks of leave called 'R & R'.

He took those two weeks to go to a place he had always dreamed of going, Athens, Greece.

But while in Greece, McDevitt says he lost $25,000, money he says he'd been saving to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding.

McDevitt says he went to a nightclub in Athens called Palia Plaka in November of 2010, and paid for a couple of drinks using his Bank of America debit card.

Two weeks later, when he got back to his base in Afghanistan, he says he checked his Bank of America account online, and saw six charges had been deducted from his account for a total of $25, 243.71, all from the nightclub Palia Plaka. McDevitt says he wrote to Bank of America and protested, saying that's not my signature. He continued, "they investigated and investigated and here we are a year and a half later and they say they aren't responsible for this at all."

According to a statement released on Saturday by Bank of America Media Relations Coordinator T.J. Crawford to NEWSChannel 2, Crawford says "I can't discuss Mr. McDevitt's account due to customer privacy concerns. However, I can tell you that with any fraud claim, there is a very thorough review process we go through to verify its authenticity."

McDevitt says he only signed a receipt for a couple of drinks, not six charges totaling more than $25,000. He says, "and you know, the sad part is most of that money was for my daughter's wedding, I saved all that money and now it's gone."

McDevitt says he doesn't know where to go from here, he says all he can do now is what he is told to do by Bank of America. He said, "all they keep telling me is that I need to fight the merchant in Athens, Greece."

On Friday, after a year and a half process of dealing with Bank of America, McDevitt says he received a final letter from B of A stating he must take up his complaint with the merchant. That's when he contacted the people from Occupy Utica who have been so vocal about the nation's banking institutions since last summer.

Saturday morning, some involved with Occupy Utica joined John McDevitt in protesting outside his home branch of Bank of America on Mohawk Street in Utica.

One of the protesters, Occupy Utica Co-Founder, Diane Berry says she was glad to take part. Berry said, "we thought this was an important thing to bring to people's attention. Because 'Occupy' is all about how basically the financial system is set up for the one percent to take money from the 99 percent."

Berry says she believes McDevitt 100 percent that he didn't sign six different debit slips for a total of more than $25,000. She said, "I mean they allowed this merchant to charge this. It wasn't something that John did. It's something the Bank of America accepted, these fraudulent papers from this merchant. They, Bank of America, should stick up for their customers with the merchant. It's not a merchant dispute, they accepted fraudulent papers."

After the lengthy investigation, the final letter to McDevitt from Bank of America reads, "After further examination of the facts of the case, our decision regarding your claim stands firm and no credits will be issued to your account for these charges."

What's On